tv Milken Health Summit with Senators Booker and Sasse CSPAN November 22, 2017 11:35am-12:23pm EST
california. then at 2:55 a look at the first motion picture unit's world war ii films. thanksgiving day on the c-span networks. the milken institute held its future of health summit recently. you'll hear from the president of the world bank. this is about an hour, 15 minutes. [ applause ]. >> i'll sit on the right side. to bring by partisan ship together a bit. >> so i think most of you know over the 20 plus years we have been putting on these events, we try to get you to know the other people at your table. by giving you a quiz.
i have the expert here sitting on my left. so this gives you we only give you one minute, but with so many experts on public health and other issues here it shouldn't be a problem. our first and question tonight is very simply. can we pull that up? okay. obesity is a known risk factor for high blood pressure, how many miles of added blood vessels does the heart have to pump through for each pound of excess weight? so this is miles for just one extra pound. does it have to go three, four, five, six or seven?
>> seven. my guess is seven. >> so if you have 100 extra pound, it's 700 miles? [ inaudible chatter ] >> okay. time is up. only one vote per table. one vote per table. shhh. so, doctor francis kolens is manning his own table tonight. and is not a lifeline for anyone. thank you for joining us. okay, how many think it's three extra miles per pound? gosh. if you weigh 20 pound you think it's more than 600 miles. okay. how about b, four extra miles. no one is voting for that. you cannot win for your table if
today? let's hear what senator booker had to do today. tell us about your day. >> well my day has been all over the place. from public schools in new jersey all the way down to voting on the floor of the senate. the big thing we did today is after months of working with environmental justice advocates, not climate change folks but folks that focus on the immediate urgent issues of environment injustice in the country. we unvailed a major piece of legislation to combat what conditions most americans especially americans that are prif ledged don't think exist. >> give us examples. >> i left new jersey and traveled through the country. everywhere from north carolina.
and the hog farm areas. to alabama. to even st. parish county in in louisiana. these are places that have things -- really i couldn't believe it. you have environmental conditions that are so extreme where poor people live. and the poor people of color. where you have types of corporate villainny you can't believe. parish they call the area the nickname is cancer alley. because of the chemical companies there and the quality of air is many of o dozens of times worse beyond what epa says. i did this because i became an activist not because of my concerns about climate change, not because of worries about polar icecaps. i was living in the inner city. i'm the only senator that lives in an urban core. i live in an overwhelmingly
majority black and latin community. $14,000. and starting to work there, as a young man coming out of law school, i was astonished i came there to work on issues of housing and public safety, but i never understood i think until i was living in some high-rise public housing projects how urgent the environmental crisis are. especially for poor communities. when i was mayor of new wark. i had dealt with epidemic levels of asthma and led poisoning. there are 3,000 communities in america where children have twice the blood led levels of flint, michigan. my community was one. terrible air quality. because the highways intersect there. you have all the public assets one might think from waste treatment areas to incinerators that burn trash. in the area driven up as most urban areas do. multiple times the asthma rates.
i decided to try to deal with food deserts. declaring efs going to make new jersey the biggest urban farming city. i began to fwo out and started planting in the soil. the epa said stop, you can't grow things in the soil. in this city because of the poison in the soil. and so by the time i finish as mayor. i saw many kids couldn't breathe. air. it was toxic. continue plant in the soil. and the water was toxic. everything from children having to drink out of the bottled water in the school because of the led. or the river which poor people a century ago could go crab skpg fishing to sustain the families. now it's a super fund site. the super fund sites which every state has. poor communities and communities color.
we know how much what it's doing to the children. children who live within mile of a super fund sites. i live with two around me. have 20% higher levs of birth defect. higher rates of autism. you have children growing up in communities where the environmental alienation and degradation is so high. cancers and respiratory systems. we don't do anything about it. i try to show folks whether you live in rural areas like alabama. there a common pain affecting ten of millions of americans. we're not doing anything about it. super funds is frustrate tg. we know the threat to the children. ronald reagan and mitch mechanic -- we failed to reauthorize it. my generation as senator. and what's happening to super fund site ts is they are increasing in the country and continuing to hurt and damage
the lives of children. today i unvailed a piece of legislation that will go at the core issues that are really unimaginable and the perversion of capitalism we have. companies are allowed to out source costs onto communities to the detriment of millions and internalize procht profit by not dealing with the environmental injustice. >> we all appreciate you shining the light on this issue. now one of the things that many people in the audience don't know about you. i was thinking of some of them. here's a boy from new jersey that goes school in stanford. >> i got in because of a 4.0. receiving yards.
i was i got in football scholarship. >> okay. i moved about 1,200 people from the northeast to california. almost all of them stayed 25 years later. you came back to new jersey. why? >> i owe a lot to the state. when my father who was born poor as a single kid in the south really with no hope or opportunity but it was the intervention of a lot of americans that broke my father out of the poverty. got him to college. the civil rights was happening and my parents benefitted. my father was the first black person hired by ibm as salesperson. and promoted to manhattan. they wouldn't sell my parents a home in white neighborhoods. so my parents had to grass roots organization the fair housing counsel to send white couples out to pose at them. and they found a house they loved and told it was sold. the white couple found it was for sale. they put a bid on the house.
and it was accepted. on the day of closing my father confronted the real estate agent. and real estate agent got angry. realized he was caught. punched my dads lawyer in the face. put a dog on my dad. a big fight broke out. the dog would get bigger every time my dad told the story. i'm growing up in the privileged town. that has great environment. where i can plant tomatoes in the backyard. and hear stories of a nation of struggle. my parents remind me we're in the house because ot hard work, dedication and discipline of a family. it was a larger community that enabled us to be where we are today. we owe a legacy of giving back to that. >> i want to dedicate my tlif making change. i tried to track down the people
who helped my family move into the town. marty was dead. the head of the fair housing counsel from the 60s is still the head. he's 91 years old. lee porter. this is the power of one person. i asked her who are the rest of the lawyers that helped and why would they do this? she sent me to the lawyer still alive. who was organizing. he said look, i made the decision because i was on my couch in the 60s watching tv and saw the people trying to march in the counties i visit on the environmental justice tour. where they still have so many residents. we talk about neglected tropical disease. i found out meeting with doctor peter expert in tropical diseases because i'm the ranking member of the african subcommittee. he said the neglected diseases exist in america. and most doctors don't know that. 12 million americans have diseases they think only exist in africa and south america.
in louns county where civil rights marched from sell ma to montgomery. the lawyer broke through the walls of segregation. and still plague the country. he was motivated because he was on his couch and saw in the county the people trying to march over of the bridge. and was so moved by the violence, he got up the next day and told his partner we're busy, just starting this business. we have to do something for the larger cause. activists in alabama, their love and patriotism changed the opinion of a lawyer in new jersey who would change generations yet unborn. for me i'm the senator from new jersey. but the problems in louns county the problems in alabama the problems in louisiana, the problems in new jersey are the same.
and for me the way to pay back the fight sr. civil rights are in nation who have so many poor people struggling with environmental issues that are a threat to the public health. this to me is a gives me to chance to try po pay forward all that was given to me. >> let's touch base -- [ applause ] >> i want to touch base on a bunch of issues. one, the issue of soil planting and etc. modern technology allows us with hydro farming to the leading firms in the world are here. to be able to farm in a warehouse. have 20 different crops that you can harvest. substantially more so technology has a promise. >> air farms in new jersey. it's amazing. vertical farming. >> we brought the leaders in the world for that. amazon technology and others delivering food to food deserts that you spoke about.
three shining a light of the issues that you have done today. and i think back a decade ago when we were giving the educato this dramatic change in the food chain. the sequencing if you're these other issues, after you completed your career as tight end for stanford, how long before you became a vegetarian? >> so it was -- so i'm a vegan now. how do you know if somebody is vegan? don't worry they'll tell you. i left stanford playing football and went and played varsity sports at oxford. and started experimenting with my body. i said i'm going to try this vegetarian thing for six months. after the first month, i said i'm never going back. i felt like my body was
supercharged. some of my greatest heroes from the olympics, like edward moses, a hurdler, the greatest of all time, was a vegetarian. >> and then i just started making the mistake of getting rid of the illusion and starting to read about our food system. and we live in a nation. you're talking about all these innovations in farming. there's a farm bill coming to the senate. it is shameful. we are subsidizing the very things that make us sick. we pay twice. billions of dollars in subsidies. and then we have kids like in newark who can go to a bodega and get a twinkie product cheaper than an apple because of our taxpayer dollars and we're subsidizing and paying for their medical care. it's worse than that. most people think of when they're eating in america they have this vision. even the products we buy the beautiful images on the package. but i have sat in dublin county,
in pig country in north carolina. poor african-american communities. and i have seen what pig farming is today. these massive concentrated animal feeding operations, massive, millions of pigs with grates where their feces falls through the cracks, goings into these massive lagoons. pigs create massive amounts of waste. i stood there with activists and watched the stench in the air, watching the mist of the stuff carry off the spray fields and into communities. sitting with activists, poor folks who can't sell their land anymore. because you have this case a major chinese company producing pigs for export. we're not even eating that pork here, much of that pork here. what do these communities have to deal with? they can't open their windows. they can't run their air
conditioning. they can't hang stuff on their line, they can't sell their land. they can't plant in their soil. they have respiratory diseases off the chart, cancer off the chart, all because of our industrial animal agriculture that is hurting our environment, causing more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry. and we don't have conversations about how these broken food systems that we subsidize are making us sick, hurting communities, destroying our land, polluting our rivers and we're not creating systems that support health and wellbeing, and even the farmers working on the pig farms who are stuck in these contracts that just don't work for them and their families. and so to me, i don't understand how we're silent about all of this injustice going on in our country. i'm just trying to do my best, and i don't do well at it. i'm just trying to do my best to live in accordance to my values, to think about the most powerful voting we do, all of us as citizens not at the ballot box, how we vote with our dollars.
what we choose to buy and support. when it comes to food, this is why the innovations you're talking about are so urgent. if we're going to save the environment of this planet, if we're going to save the health of this planet, the point we should focus on, the debate is not the health care system. i have very strong beliefs about medicaid, medicare, and the health care system but what we should focus on is food systems and making sure people aren't getting sick in the first place. we're just not doing a good enough job in this country. [ applause ] >> so, senator, today, tonight. tomorrow. 700 of the leader in this country are here. companies like perdue that have eliminated antibiotics from their chickens, et cetera. we have numerous of companies here in small innovative companies creating new foods.
before i came here i stopped in at fat burger in los angeles. that starting a few days ago got the delivery of impossible foods. so it tastes same, it looks the same. >> it bleeds like a burger. >> it bleeds the same, and it's kind of amazing. and it is fantastic. but the movement is starting here and we appreciate your call to action. >> i appreciate the difference you are making as an american citizen through your foundation. we have had conversations for years. and years and years. the most common way we give up our power is not realizing we have it in the first place. all of us have the power to transform our community like that one lawyer in my life. you're one of those people standing up, using your power to transform the nation. there's nothing wrong with america as a leader before me that can't be fixed with what's right with america, and you give me hope, so thank you very much. >> thank you.
[ applause ] >> so senator booker is also the poster boy of the vegan in america today. >> sadly, they have vegan ice cream. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. >> i would be remiss to say, because despite what people say about washington, there's a lot of great friendships going on across the aisle. the guy that's coming up here now, who is in much better shape than i am, even though he eats a lot of meat, even though he comes from a state that doesn't have as good of football as stanford does, the truth of the hatter is, truly one of the more honorable men in all of washington, d.c. is ben sasse. glad to see him here as well.
>> so i'd like to call up senator sasse. see if he could join us. up here. thank you, senator booker. good to see you. which side do you want? >> you're in charge. >> it's your -- >> i'm usually on the right. but i'll take cory's seat. >> let's switch. >> i have to say, i think a lot of booker and we're at events together often. i have never heard that 40 and 1600 joke. that's pretty good stuff. nebraska is the winningest team in the last 50 years. stanford is like 13th. but whatever. >> we were really good from 50 years ago to like 17 years ago. we're not counting anymore. see you, cory. >> tell us a little bit to start ubyour day today. >> i had ugly flights last night. i'm a farm kid by background. so we don't complain.
i did planes, trains, and automobiles overnight. i have a 16-year-old girl, 13-year-old girl, 6-year-old boy. we live in nebraska in a farm town an hour outside of omaha. and the family, i'm one of five people in the u.s. senate who has never been a politician before. i was elected in 2014. we do a family commute which we're the only people who do that. usually if you're the only person doing it you're a rookie and an idiot. that's probably true. the family has been coming out here spring of '15, '16, '17 for about three months a year, and the other nine months i commute every week. about 60% of the time, i bring one of my kids with me. i get home on friday night and my wife tells me who annoyed her most that day and they become my case for the next week. >> so, you have had quite an education. you probably have as many degrees as anyone in the room. tell us your focus on education.
and what drove you. >> well, my mom's way of saying is it i'm intellectually promiscuous and i can't keep a job. i don't think my educational track is anything you should emulate. i have a history ph.d. from yale, and that means you have like a 2.2% chance of ever being employed again. so you shouldn't do that. that's the first thing. i'm a strategy consultant by background. most of my work history is mckinsey and bcg and private equity. i just happened, cory is a couple years older than me, but i graduated undergrad in 1994, and the internet was blowing up sector after sector in that point. and i quickly learned by accident, not i didn't have a theory. but the distinction between entrepreneurial management. i discovered impatience, which i always thought of as a vice in my life, is also a bit of a virtue. in a time when the internet was
blowing up business after business after business, i had a valued add as an entrepreneurial manager, so i went into a lot of places that were blowing up, and it turned out there was probably an infinite amount of work in three to six months turnarounds when the internet was going to destroy all these business models, and where wanted to have some geographic anchor. there was a bunch of stuff i hadn't read as an undergrad and i wanted to read so i went by accident. not because i wanted to write a great dissertation, but i wanted to take general exams to teach undergraduate survey courses. i never was really planning to be an academic. then because of my turnaround work history, i ended up becoming a college president five years before i ran for the senate. so i think the higher ed states, and i'll stop here lest i give too much of a monologue, but i think higher ed is a sector that is right for just being completely blown up. we need lots more plural models of not just how we spend 18 to
24-year-old time but how we spend 40 and 45 and 50-year-old time. in a world where work duration, average duration as a firm is going to get shorter, i think, forever more. in human history, and we're going to create a world where 40 and 45 and 50-year-olds are intermediates not just out of a job and a firm but out of an entire industry and skill set. never before have they gotten employed again. i think we're going to have to solve the problem of lifelong learning and no civilization has ever done that before. we need a mass pluralization of tertiary institutions. we need lots of different forms of higher ed. >> so we have a group here today. [ applause ] we have a group that's been assembled that are seeing the disintermediation in the medical area, medical research, health care, data.
sequencing the microbiome and so on. how do you view the explosion of data disrupting various sectors including health care? what advice would you give to this group today? >> you all are experts in the many subfields that we sort of batch as health care, and they're really, you know, health care is the largest sector of u.s. gdp, but if you disaggregate the big five, hospitals, insurers, med device, medical specialties, and pharma, i think all five of you are sort of among the 12 to 15 largest industries in america. but we need to think more plural. i think the old anecdote that a lot of us learned in junior high that people from atlanta only know one word for snow, and eskimos in alaska have 39 words for snow. that's probably not true, but differentiation in the way we see things, i think in your sector, certainly requires it, but you're experts in the many
subfields and i'm not at all, but i would say big data needs to remake health care and ultimately lots of the political debates we're having right now, we pretend they're about federal versus state regulation or sort of level of government economic expenditure at the actual health delivery moment. i think one of the meta ways to think about the fight we're having is big data ultimately going to reside in silicon valley or baltimore? baltimore is my shorthand for cms headquarters. and if it's baltimore, it's going to be really, really ugly. we're not going to get higher quality, lower cost care fast enough if baltimore owns the data. we need patients to own the data and we need silicon valley to serve patients. and we need a decentralized approach to the way data poll through all of your different subsectors. i think baltimore is a disastrous shorthand for east berlin 1976.
and you're never going to solve the level of problems we need if we think the federal government can own the data top down. i want to see data disrupt lots of your subsectors, and we need to figure out a way to create data polls, not just data pushes from cms, because it's going to be too slow that way. >> senator, one of the quotes i read by you -- >> that was supposed to get applause, by the way. i'm teasing. >> senator, one of the quotes i read, it wasn't until i started to learn spanish that i understood english at all. i think that's what travels about. tell us about that. >> i think the quotes at attributed to lots of people, but one of them is c.s. lewis, who would say that a fish can't explain to you what water is like because he's never not been in water. right? fundamentally there are good reasons to learn foreign language. but the most basic reason is that you don't understand
grammar and syntax and vocabiarily in your own language until you can get out of your language and look back on it. so even if you never learn or use your spanish or your french or your german or your mandarin or latin, knowing another language changes you. because you now see the choices that english makes. english is a weird language. it has a german chassis and a french latin vocabulary. and that's a pretty good lesson. we benefit in our culture from having a language that has some of the benefits of german but the plural language is a vocab that comes from romance languages. i think that we need our kids to understand that a huge part of the old, what used to be called the trivium in the medieval era, grammar, logic, dialectic and rhetoric, every sdiscipline, every field has a grammar. first, you need to learn basic facts. it turns out, if you have kids or grandkids that are 4 or 6 or
8, they're in the back of the car just like a pull parrot babbling all the time. it's annoying as can be, but they're built to learn grammar. once you learn your grammar, you start to figure out how to put it together and wrestle and manufacture arguments, so logic or dialectic, and then you go through puberty and you're a romantic poet and you want to tell stories about everything. you start to think about presentation and you're separating from mom and the household of origin. i think we need our kids to be able to think about almost every discipline that way. so i use the travel opportunity of the moment we live at, think tom friedman, world is flat on speed. middle class people across the world can now experience the whole world in ways that would have been inconceivable for all of human history until a couple decades ago. so i think that travel is a pretty special way to think about learning empathy and comparative x, y, and z discipline, and it's akin to learning a language.
>> so we heard a little bit of that college president there in that. >> sorry, my bad. >> one of the issues -- >> that's all a college president really does. >> i'm ready. >> feels like there are too many iphones rolling. so later. >> the theme this year for the milken institute has been building meaningful lives. and the challenge when we see that 1 in 5, 1 in 6 men have actually dropped out of the workforce and are not trying to get jobs today, and one of the issues we're going to address tomorrow is opioids, and 50% of those are on some drugs. and two thirds of those are on opioids. when we go back to talking about school, our college text and think about maslow's hierarchy of needs and what those levels
are and the challenges for so many people at the bottom of our pyramid here today, it made me really think here, when we mentioned tom friedman, his new book "thank you for being late." when he interviewed the surgeon general, the surgeon general says the number one disease in america today is isolation. not diabetes, not cancer, but it's isolation. i found that interesting. here's another quote by senator ben sasse. one of the most basic things that makes you happy in life is thinking that you're needed. if you think that your work matters to somebody, if you have a meaningful way to contribute to your neighbor, you're basically going to be happy. i think this is the idea, how do people find meaningful life. what drove you to talk about this issue? >> yeah. so first of all, well framed getting from opioids back to sort of vocation. because i think that too often
we're chasing the tail on things that are largely symptomatic. there's all sorts of really big and important problems to talk about, how we got to the opioid crisis, the pote nlsy of the stuff we're dealing with overprescribing, et cetera, but i'm glad you put it in this broader context. i have become a student, business strategy guy by work history, but historian by training. i have never read a ton of social science. i did college economics like everybody else, but i have become a student recently of the happiness literature, and sort of the mirror image of it is the loneliness and isolation literature. and there is just an unbelievable amount of data over the last decade about the basic things that drive human happiness. and you know, this is not a real question for the audience, but a rhetorical question, how many variables do you think go into the equation of whether or not you're happy? it turns out there are four or five depending on howia want to count. the first time i was asked the
question, arthur brooks who runs the american enterprise institute, has a book, the conservative heart, he's really into the happiness literature. and the first time he asked me about this, i figured i guess the equation has 400 inputs. since you ask it that way, i think it's a leading question, maybe it's 80. and it's four. besides your dna, so the university of minnesota has this twins literature on 300 identical twins separated at birth. turns out half of whether or your you're happy is mom's fault. so it's about half of it is in your genes. but if anything that you can control, there are only four variables. and they are do you have a family, do you have friends, and i don't mean senate kind of friends. cory really is my friend, but i don't mean the sort of, you know, my good friend, as you're about to rip somebody's head off in a debate and destroy their position. and i don't mean social media friends, facebook friends.
i mean friends. is there somebody who feels pain when you're hurting, and is there someone who takes pleasure when you're happy? not because they choose to but because they love you? it's the way we feel about our kids. when my 16 or 13-year-old girls are hurting, i hurt. not making a choice to hurt. they're just a part of me. right? and i ache. when my 6-year-old boy is flying on his bike and he's smiling ear to ear, i look up at the sun and feel my chest expands and i'm happy. real aristtillion friendship, number two, number three, do you have a theological or philosophical world view to make sense of death and suffering? we're all scared of mortality and hiding from it 97% of the time. and number four, and in the data, by far the largest statistical driver of happiness is meaningful work. the data is really extraordinary on this. when you leave home on monday morning or whatever moment you begin your work week, if you think that you're needed, not do
i think i make enough money, not is there some jack wagon who talks too loudly three cubicles away, not do my ankles or knees hurt at the end of the day, but do i think i matter? am i needed at work? if yes, you're almost certainly going to be happy. and if no, you're almost certainly not going to be happy. it's extraordinary data that having vocation, having a calling, having meaningful work, and it's not necessarily the thing you get paid for. it's plural callings, next week is the 500th anniversary of luther and vitten brg. we should do our work on the word vocation and its recitation in western civ, but do you have a sense of calling and meaning? if so, you're going to be happy. and i think we're going through one of arguably one of the biggest transformations in all of economic history, and it's usually not a historians job to claim massive discontinuity. historian's job is to be boring and preach continuity when
everything else thinks everything is changing. no, no, everybody is mostly the change. you're just a narcissist and you're here, that's why you think there's tons of change right now. that's a historian's job. but in this case, i really do believe we're going through a transiti transition. you had hunter gathers, and then you had a shift. 150 plus years ago, we have a shift from mostly agrarian jobs, 86% of americans live and work on a farm at the end of the civil war. 60% of americans lived and works in cities by world war ii. think of that transformation. 86% on the farm, 1865. 60% working in cities by 1940. that's the third transition in economic history. what we're going through now, i think, we don't have alphabets when hunter gathers settle down so we don't know, but this moment we're going through now is the biggest -- by this moment, i don't mean 2016 ''17, or 2008, economic downturn, i
mean the last 20 years and the next 50 to 100. we're going through a world where most people had lifelong employment for all of history's path, and hunter/gatherer farmers didn't have a job choice. only industrialization brought lots of job choice. what we're going through now is going to be the first multicareer lot, and everybody is going to enter that world. what that means is you have multiple moments in life not just your adolescence when you go through a disruption that may unsettle your work, and you may not find meaningful work again. so i think this crisis of loneliness and isolation is about to break down mediating institutions and local community because local community has always tracked with local workplaces and that's probably not going to be the case anymore. we're going to need 40 and 45 and 50-year-olds figure out how to find meaningful work again, and no one in human history has done that before, and we're doomed if we don't solve the problem. it's a giant problem, we don't even know how to talk about it.
>> i think senator, you have outlined -- [ applause ] you have outlined the issue on why many of us are here. and this is the search for meaningful life. a decade ago, we put out a report called "an unhealthy america." and what really shocked me, and it wasn't that america gained all this weight, and we were the heaviest country, and obesity was maybe the leading cause of medical costs today, but the number one part of that was depression. and it was absenteeism, presenteeism, and when we survey young people, and i want to get to that area in closing, they're very focused on meaning and purpose, not pay. and when we survey people, what is the most important thing about their job, the answer, their coworkers.
who are the people they're working with today. and i know you have studied so many of these issues. and i want to touch on the vanishing american adult for a moment, if we could. tell us what drove you to write this book. >> so i became a college president eight years ago, and that was late in the turnaround. and i wasn't going there because i was primarily -- nobody thought i was an expert on student culture and student affairs, right? we had a financial crisis and a student recruiting crisis and donor problems and x, y, and z. but inside the student affairs function, that wasn't why i was called there, and i found that 6 or 12 or 18 months into the job of 37 at the time, i was regularly confused with being an undergrad. >> you didn't know that no good deed goes unpunished when you took that job, right? >> that is true. it turns out that's applicable to lots of domains. but i found that what i was
losing sleep about 6 and 12 and 18 months into the job is that i didn't think, even though i was 37, so i was 18, 19 years from having gone off to college myself, i didn't feel like i understood the incoming students to our school because of one fundamental difference. the vanish american adult is not one guy screaming get off my lawn. this is not a what's the matter with kids today kind of book. it's that we have a new thing developing amongst us and we don't have categories to reflect on it. that is this emergence of perpetual adolescence. adolescence as i describe it as a great, great thing. perpetual adolescence is a disaster. adolescence is about two millenn yeah old, where you create a greenhouse safe space between childhood and adulthood. throughout most of history, puberty defined the line between childhood and adulthood, and you have to become an adult in every
way when your body is an adult. that's what happens most places. if you don't have enough food and you don't know if you have enough store houses and this harvest might not be great and people might starve or you have a neighboring tribe that wants to go to war with your people, if you have an adult body, you're needed and you're pressed into full-time work. the distinction is dependency and the ability to be independent. if you can be independent, you have to do it in every way. morally, you have to consider yourself fully formed. you can't reflect anymore after you're 13, 14, 15. puberty now is 13, 12. used to be 14, 15. economically, you have to form your household, you have to fully contribute. household formation, marriage, procreation, full-time working, that's what happened the moment you hit puberty. adolescence is this idea that we should take 12, 18 months to four years and provide the safe space where i'm critical of the sas space movement in our
colleges and universities because these people are now seven, eight years into adult bodies, but the safe space movement as it was sort of understood at the original adolescent moment was we're going to create a space where just because you hit puberty, you don't have to be done learning. you don't have to pretend you're morally fully formed. cow don't get pushed out of the nest and household completely. you don't have to go to tul-time work. all sorts of wonderful things where we protect the space, as long as we understand it's a means to an end. adolescence is a means to becoming an adult. it should not be your destancy. we forget that peter pan, disney has tried to freshen it up and make it seem like it's glorious to have this founlten of youth as a 14-year-old. peter pan is a dystopian hell. if you go back and read the book, the guy is 30, and he's killing people. right? and he doesn't have memory. he lives in the moment. he just cut somebody's head off and the next day he doesn't remember their name. it is a bad thing to be stuck in a peter pan world. and we are accidentally sort of
consigning lots of our kids at 18 and 20 and 22 and 24 to still acting like they're 13. and so it's increasingly difficult to tell 10 and 15 and 20 and 25-year-olds apart. and i think the root of this is that we're the richest people in all of human history. and because of that, we don't really need our kids. i didn't mean to intentionally draw this back to your point about work, but our kids when they're 10 and 12 and 14 and 16, we certainly don't need them economically, and that's really new in human history. as recently as the end of the u.s. civil war, most historians estimate more than 30% of the household was added by preadolescent kids. under 14-year-old kids added 30% of value to your household until 130 years abgo. you had this timeframe where you were progressively needed and you learned to work we don't know have in our kids experience, they don't know the
distinction between production and consumption. they mostly know a distinction between progression through years in school, which can be useful, but it's not an unmitigated good. school is not a sufficient substitute for all productive categories that exist. and so we need to think of education as the end and school as a tool. a really important tool, but a tool that we ought to be able to be reflective on. and our kids, they have time in school, and then they have different consumption categories. that leads to a world where they don't only not known the difference between production and consumption. they tend to fought know a real distinction between needs and wants. we're not serving them well. the vanishing american adult is two thirds constructive, only one third critique. there's no blame laying in the book, but if there is, i'm laying it on us. we haven't reflected on a world where kids are coming of age without any engagement with the productive environment and we can and need to do better for them than that. >> senator, thank you very much.
[ applause ] and one of the things we constantly, and our president started out with this issue. you think you might be trying to solve a problem here, but it results in something else. so the extension of life, the improvement of quality of life, technology today, has made a lot of challenges, as young adults grow up and the challenges. and we appreciate the path you have taken, and we appreciate the history lesson tonight. thank you very much. [ applause ]